Sunday, September 1, 2013
Labor of Love
Posted by Pat C.
Laurie knocked on the door, found it open, and called inside. “Lorelei? Are you here?”
Lorelei popped out from an inner room. Her hair, which she usually let fly in unruly wavelets, had been pulled back from her face in a tight (if you’ll pardon the expression) bun. She had on doctor’s scrubs with hearts embroidered on the pockets, clearly her own addition. “You’re just in time. C’mon in. Did you bring the—?” She spotted the basket in Digger’s hands and beamed. “Oh yeah. Now we’re cooking.”
Digger sniffed. “I smell blood. Bunny blood. Are you sure you want me here?”
“You ate already, right?”
“We ate on the way,” Laurie said. “Frisky Burger. He had the Triple Frisky Supreme. I had to drive.”
A gasp and a groan sounded from the room behind Lorelei. The bunny waved them in.
Inside the room another bunny shifter lay on the bed with the covers knotted in her hands. Her face, already strained and pale, went ashen at sight of Digger. “Is he a wolf?”
“He’s the garden guy,” Lorelei said. “You know him. Last year we had a cookout at his house.” She plucked a thick carrot from Digger’s basket. “Here. Chew on this.”
The bunny woman snatched at the carrot and bit down just as her stomach contracted. The carrot broke with an overloud snap. Digger edged toward the door. “I’ll just wait in the other room.”
“You will not,” Lorelei said. “You’ll stand right there and be ready to snarl if any other predators show up. Okay with you, Bibi?”
“Yes, please.” The sweaty woman nodded. “I remember you now. I feel safer with you here.”
“What about Allen? We could call him—”
“Don’t you dare. He’ll panic. He’ll faint. I’d rather have the wolf. We can call Allen when it’s over. He’ll thank us for it, believe me.” Another tremor shook her. She put a hefty dent in her remaining piece of carrot. Digger whimpered.
Laurie set the basket of veggies on the bureau and joined Lorelei at the bedside. “I didn’t know you were a midwife.”
“Every bunny gets midwife training. Even the bucks. You never know when it’ll come in handy. How are you doing, Bibi?”
“I want it over with,” Bibi panted. “I’m never letting Allen touch me again.”
“That’s what they all say. How about you, Laurie? I won’t make you stick around, but I can always use an extra set of hands.”
Laurie gritted her teeth. “Might as well get some experience. My sister’s due in another month. Can we call you?”
“What’s she married to again?”
“Oh, they’re so easy. They come out tiny. Then they grow like mad.” Lorelei wiped Bibi’s forehead and patted her clenched fist. “I think we’re ready. Potato.”
Digger fetched a fleshy yam from the basket and held it up to Bibi’s mouth. Bibi bit down hard. With her big bunny teeth wedged into the tuber, she no longer posed a threat to those helping her. “Just watch her feet,” Lorelei warned Laurie. “If she kicks you even accidently, she can do damage.”
“I’m on it,” Digger said. He stayed by the bedside and held Bibi’s hand, even when her nails dug into his skin. She smiled up at him around the sweet potato.
“Well, lookit you,” said Lorelei. “Big Daddy Wolf.”
“I could use the experience too.” He winked at Laurie, who turned bright pink. “Like you said, you never know.”
Bibi suddenly swore—her exact words were muffled by the yam—and kicked out. Digger grabbed her left leg and held it to the bed. Lorelei squatted between Bibi’s legs. “Batter up.”
The baby came out in a gush of fluid. Laurie was there with a blanket. Lorelei severed the cord with a single expert bite. She offered the placenta to Bibi. Bibi shook her head. “Cellry,” she mumbled.
“Celery,” Lorelei translated. “Hope you brought a lot of greens. This could take a while.”
While Bibi took out her aggressions on the hapless stalk, Lorelei and Laurie finished cleaning the baby. The infant had a crown of auburn fuzz, big feet, and already showed signs of teeth. “It’s a girl,” Laurie said. “She looks healthy to me, but I’m not a shifter.”
“She’s fine.” Lorelei cooed over the baby before passing the infant to Bibi. “How about you, wolf boy?”
“Not so much.” Digger pawed at his nose. “Sorry, girls. I gotta get out of here. Get some air with less blood in it.”
“No prob. You come back when you’re ready.”
Bibi suddenly shuddered and moaned. Laurie took the baby from her and placed it in the basket Lorelei had prepared. Lorelei resumed her position. “And we’re off,” she murmured. “One down, seven to go.”